By Jonathan Rosenfeld
The emergency room is expensive and not at all fun, so you want to avoid having to take your child there if you can. By taking some simple precautions and planning ahead, many different types of situations can be avoided, saving you and your family a lot of time and money. Here are ten tips to keep you from being on a first-name basis at the ER:
1. Keep infants off the couch and bed.
Even before kids can walk, they can be involved in accidents. Many parents place babies on the bed or sofa, but infants can easily roll over and onto the floor. Don’t leave babies unsupervised on any high pieces of furniture, including the changing table. When Mom is busy, Junior can snuggle in the crib or play happily in the playpen.
2. Keep infant/car seats on the floor.
The same applies to babies in infant seats; they shouldn’t be left on high places like tables. An infant seat with a baby in it could be knocked off by rambunctious kids or family pets. Sometimes older babies are strong enough to bounce in the infant seat until it reaches the edge and topples off. A general rule of thumb is to not leave babies anywhere a fall could happen.
3. Lock up anything you wouldn’t hand to your child to play with.
When the kids reach toddler age, parents really learn the meaning of “baby proofing the house.” Toddlers will push, pull, eat, play with, or stick their fingers into anything. Make sure to lock up all cleaning products, medicines, alcohol, and anything else that a child could ingest. The bathroom is often a roomful of dangerous substances, so it’s a good idea to put a hook and eyelet lock up high on the outside of the bathroom door.
4. Constantly check around the house for choking hazards.
Choking or swallowing small objects is always a hazard for toddlers. Be sure to police the house for things children could swallow such as paper clips, coins, beads, small batteries or small toys belonging to older children. Ask the older kids to help; they’ll feel important. When women friends come over, make sure their purses are well out of reach. Your child will be safer, and your friends will not be upset that their lipstick was eaten.
5. Stay on top of your socket plugs.
Socket plugs are a parent’s standard these days, but over time they seem to disappear. Pick a day every week to make sure sockets that have been used are replaced Buy enough socket plugs so if some are lost or broken, you can replace them easily. Toddlers love to stick their fingers into sockets, and what’s worse, they love to stick silverware in them as well. Keep those sockets plugged up that are high as well as the ones at baseboard level; kids do a remarkable amount of climbing.
6. Keep matches and lighters locked up.
Everyone tells the kids “Don’t play with matches,” but to a small child matches are just too tempting. Make sure they’re locked up and not in a drawer in the kitchen. Keep any kind of lighter or firestarter locked up, too. If you have firecrackers in your home, which are legal in some places, make sure they’re well out of reach of the kids. It’s best if they are taught how to be safe with them, but even better if they don’t know they’re even in the house. Don’t leave kids around the hot stove or burners unsupervised, and be especially watchful of them around outdoor grilles, which can tip over easily. Burns are nasty and you want to avoid them at all costs.
7. Anchor your TV
A serious issue now with small children involves large flat screen TVs. Flat screen TVs are top-heavy, and tip over readily even when pulled on by a toddler. But flat screen TVs aren’t the only problem; people are moving their old cathode-ray TVs to bedrooms and placing them on dressers. This is even more dangerous, since a dresser was never designed to support the weight of a TV, and the TV will fall over with very little encouragement. One expert reported that a child is killed by a TV every three weeks. If you have a flat screen TV that’s accessible to a toddler, anchor it to a wall or to a low, heavy stand. If you have an older TV on a dresser, it’s best to anchor it to the wall, or make sure your toddler can’t get into the room where it is.
8. Don’t stop laying down the law on street activity
Small children have no concept of watching out for cars. They need constant supervision when out on trips. If you’re taking a walk, take hold of your toddler’s hand well before the crosswalk, before he has a chance to dash into the street. If you’re at the park, make sure you know he hasn’t wandered near the road. When you’re done at the grocery store, and in the parking lot, it’s a good idea to pop him into the car seat and then load the groceries into the car. But you need to be car-conscious at home, too; many small children have been run over in their own driveway. Before you pull out of the driveway, make sure you know where your toddler is. Your partner or an older child can watch him until you get safely away. Many people install a backup camera in their car, which is a pretty good idea.
9. Teach your kids how to ride a bike as if they were driving a car
Older kids are also vulnerable to accidents. Bike riding is a great activity, but also a source of visits to the ER. Make sure the kids know the rules of safe bike riding, such as using reflectors and riding facing oncoming traffic. Helmets are very important for preventing brain injuries, and the kids should never ride without one. It’s good to have a brightly-colored helmet for increased visibility.
10. Water! Water! Water!
Kids should always have plenty of access to water! According to the Center for Disease Control 85% of kids go through the day dehydrated. Water prevents obesity, sickness, tiredness, judgment, and prevents your blood from circulating properly. Everyone should carry a water bottle. By carrying a water bottle around constantly, you and your children are reminded to drink, and you can monitor how much water you are drinking throughout the day.
Kids will be kids, but you can prevent a lot of accidents by thinking of Murphy’s Law–whatever can happen will happen–and taking precautions to head off what could happen. That way you won’t end up becoming best friends with the pediatric nurses. About this author: Birth Injury Attorney Jonathan Rosenfeld of Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers advocates for children with birth injuries and regularly protects their rights through his law firm. In addition to practicing law Jonathan enjoys swimming, grilling, and chauffeuring his kids in Chicago, IL. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.